Whenever we’re packing up our camper for a fun family getaway I make sure we have our favorite campsite game neatly stowed away - Hillbilly Golf! This fun game, also called Ladder Ball, Ladder Toss, and Bola Ball, has become popular with campers and backyard gamers over the past few years. Its simplicity appeals to kids and adults of all ages. Who needs a fancy set of golf clubs and an extravagant country club membership when you can toss golf balls on a string at a 3-rung ladder and have just as much fun (maybe even more!). Minus the golf cart hijinks and searching for free balls in the bushes, Hillbilly Golf is sure to entertain your whole family. You can purchase it for around $30 to $60, or you can make it at home with a little PVC cutting and fitting for a fraction of the price. Make it unique by painting it your favorite team’s colors or deck it out in stripes. Whatever you choose to do, your personalized design will make it the coolest one in the campground! Here are the easy step-by-step instructions of how to make your very own DIY Hillbilly Golf game (and the bola balls that go with it!) with directions on how to play the game below it. Give it a try! You’ll have a ball!
How to Make Hillbilly Golf
Materials needed for two (2) ladders:
5-10’ long pieces of ¾” PVC pipe
12-¾” PVC “T” fittings
12-¾” PVC 90° fittings
For one ladder, cut the PVC pipe into the following sizes:
9-2’ long pieces
6-1’ long pieces
*Some home improvement stores will cut it onsite for you (Bonus!). The remaining PVC pipe and fittings will be used for the other ladder (set this aside for now).
Set out your cut pieces (15 altogether) along with six (6) “T” fittings and six (6) 90° fittings. Now you’re ready to assemble your first ladder. Use the diagram below as your guide. If you’d like, you can glue the structure together. However, it’s pretty sturdy as is and being able to take it apart for traveling and storage is a nice perk of not gluing it.
Materials/tools needed for six (6) bola ball sets:
12 golf balls in 2 different colors (6 of each color)
15’ of ¼” nylon rope (cut into 6-25” pieces)
¼” drill bit
1” spade bit or forstner bit
Vise grip or channel locks
On your drill press, clamp a piece of scrap wood to the table and drill a 1” diameter hole in the board using the spade or forstner bit. Without moving or adjusting the table, remove the drill bit and replace it with the ¼”-diameter bit. Set a golf ball in the hole you drilled. Fits perfectly! Using a vise or channel locks, secure the ball. Slowly drill a hole through the ball. Repeat these steps with the other 11 golf balls. Now it’s time to thread the nylon through the balls so that you have a ball on each end. Once you have done this, tie a knot at each end of the rope so that the balls are about 20” apart. Melt the ends with a lighter to keep them from fraying.
How to Play Hillbilly Golf
Goal of the game: To toss and land your bolas on ladder rungs to score points. The first player or team to EXACTLY 21 points wins!
If playing with 2 players, each player gets a set of bola balls. If playing with 4 players, create teams of 2 and each team gets a set of bola balls.
- Set up ladders on even ground so that they are 15-30 feet apart. Adjust the distance apart based on the ages of the players.
- If playing on teams, one player from each team stands next to one ladder. Their teammates stand across from them next to the other ladder. Player 1 goes first by holding onto the end of a bola and tossing it across at the opposing ladder (end over end), aiming to land it on one of the rungs. Player 2 takes a turn and does the same thing. Repeat taking turns with the other two bolas. Players can try to knock their opponent’s bolas off the rungs to decrease their points too. Once both opponents have thrown all three bolas, they add up their points depending on where their bolas landed on the ladder. Only bolas that stayed on the rungs count. Do not remove bolas from the ladder until all have been thrown.
- Top rung: 3 points
- Middle rung: 2 points
- Bottom rung: 1 point
- Now the players who were waiting at the other ladder get to play (or single players just collect their bolas from the opposing ladder and play in the opposite direction). Play continues until a player or team reaches EXACTLY 21 points. If a player or team goes over 21, the points that put them over 21 get deducted from their total. For example, if a team has 19 and scores 3 points in the next round to equal 22, the 3 points get deducted from 19. The new score is 16.
For other fun, family-friendly camp games to check out, try washer toss or challenge yourself to lawn bowling! What are your families must-have games to take along camping? Let us know in the comments!